A sure way to recognize wood laminate is when the grain does NOT follow through your piece. Wood Veneer is a sheet or thin layer of 'quality-natural-hardwood' that is adhered to a lesser quality wood surface. Wood Veneers give the impression of a more desired quality wood without being as costly.
Thermofoil is a vinyl laminate that is heated and pressurized onto an MDF core. This process leaves a completely smooth surface that does not show any seams. The lack of seams around the door's joints can be a clear indication that your cabinet doors are a laminate material.
Check the edges of the doors and drawers. If they are solid wood, you'll see end grain on the tops and bottoms. If they're engineered, you'll see edging material with a longitudinal wood grain, which looks unnatural.
Cabinet brands that belong to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) will have a sticker on the back side of the sink door or side wall of the cabinet. On the sticker there should be a code or the cabinetry name in the middle of the label.
Non-porous woods are softwoods. Ring, semi-ring, and diffuse-porous woods are all hardwoods. If you can't sand your piece, look inside of drawers cabinets, trim boards, or even the bottom of legs for an untreated end grain view. It will really help you out with identification.
The least expensive option is painting laminate cabinets. Laminate is not an ideal surface to paint, but it can be done.
Look for water marks, stains and faded areas on the floorboards. Laminate doesn't stain the way natural wood does, so if you see water rings, random splotches or discolorations on the floor, it is probably hardwood.
Cheaper cabinets will often use thin panels which then require metal hanging rails with brackets, rails, and a picture frame construction. Sometimes they leave the panel out completely, so the wall shows through.
It is possible to paint over fake wood surfaces of this type, but the work must be carefully done to get good adhesion of the paint. Because most of your work must be done in a kitchen, where flames or sparks are a problem, I suggest using all latex-based products to avoid flammability dangers.
The fundamental differences between thermofoil and laminate stem from their terminology. Laminate refers to any type of material used in the laminating process, whereas thermofoil constitutes a very specific type of PVC vinyl coating. Thermofoil comprises just one of the numerous laminates used in and around the home.
Similar to laminate cabinetry, wood veneer cabinets take a thin piece of actual wood and adhere it to a manufactured interior. The result is a strong, reliable cabinet that has the look and feel of wood.
Wood is more expensive than any of the composite cabinet materials available, and solid wood doors and drawer fronts are typical in high-quality cabinets. Examples of the more luxurious woods used in quality cabinets are cherry, mahogany, chestnut and cypress.
The only difference between framed and frameless cabinets is the box construction. The structural quality and durability between the two types of construction is equal, you simply have two very different construction methods that offer two different distinct looks.
If the underside of the furniture you are inspecting has a grain that looks completely different than the top, then it's a veneer. Top and bottom veneer pieces are made from two different pieces of wood, meaning they won't match.
The main difference is that veneers comprise thin layers of wood that are pressed on a plywood base while laminates are manufactured by pressing together layers of flat paper and plastic resins under high pressure.
If you just feel a smooth surface and not the ridges and raisings of a natural grain, it is most likely veneer. Look for discrepancies in the grain. If you notice that the surface of the piece is has the same grain pattern across all sides, chances are it's veneer.
You canNOT stain laminate. It's not wood! The stain has nothing to soak into, and will literally sit on top of the laminate and never fully dry. It will be a nasty sticky mess forevermore.
Plywood and laminated wood are both made of layers (laminae) of wood glued together. The basic difference is that in plywood the grain of alternate layers is crossed, in general at right angles, whereas in laminated wood it is parallel.
Good-quality wood glue and a clamp to hold the laminate against the core is a good way to repair laminate coating that is peeling. Once the glue has set and dried, you can begin to clean the cabinet doors and drawers.
You can paint the cabinets with oil-based paints, acrylic paints, or melamine paints once they have been primed. Moisture-resistant materials in the paint make Melamine paints ideal for painting laminate surfaces, since they are just right for the moisture and steam that are so prevalent in kitchens.
Maple is the most expensive type of wood available for kitchen cabinets. Kitchen cabinets made of pine tend to be the cheapest type of cabinet on the market. However, if you want something that will last longer and look nicer, cherry may be a better option.